The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)—also referred to as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, the Islamic State, or Daesh—split from al-Qa’ida in 2014 and established its self-proclaimed caliphate.
ISIS’s primary area of operations is Iraq and Syria, but the group has expanded and now operates in 11 countries, with its strongest affiliates in Libya and Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.
ISIS is the richest terrorist organization in the world, worth an estimated $2 billion. The group relies on a variety of financial resources for sustainment, including taxation and extortion, oil smuggling, collecting rent, and selling artifacts.
ISIS is capable of conducting coordinated attacks outside Iraq and Syria. The ISIS-directed Paris attacks in November 2015 and the Brussels attacks in March killed approximately 160.
Threat to New Jersey: Moderate
The terror threat from ISIS to New Jersey is moderate because of the group’s ability to attract and dispatch foreign fighters to and from Iraq and Syria, as well as to inspire individuals to plot and conduct attacks. Since 2015, ISIS supporters have issued several threats targeting law enforcement in New Jersey.
- In 2015, federal authorities arrested 66 individuals in the United States for providing material support to ISIS or plotting to conduct an attack; five resided in New Jersey. Nationally, ISIS sympathizers conducted four unsuccessful attacks, including two thwarted attacks in New York City and Boston.
- In March, a group called the Caliphate Cyber Army, a pro-ISIS hacktivist group, released a list disclosing the personally identifiable information of 55 New Jersey Transit police officers. In January 2015, an ISIS supporter instructed sympathizers to “kill police officers and soldiers in the streets and public squares of New Jersey” through an anonymous online post.
- Since the start of the Syrian conflict in 2011, around 150 Americans have traveled to Syria to join groups like ISIS; 40 individuals have returned to the United States. As of May, there were roughly 800 open investigations on ISIS supporters in the United States, according to the FBI Director.
- Since the onset of US coalition airstrikes in September 2014, ISIS has urged its supporters to carry out attacks in the West, including New York, Washington, DC, Los Angeles, and Dearborn, Michigan. More specifically, ISIS continues to encourage sympathizers to attack law enforcement and military personnel.
- How are sympathizers in New Jersey supporting ISIS?
- How is ISIS providing direction and resources to individuals in New Jersey, or the surrounding region, to conduct attacks?